From the new WIP. I liked this section.
He glanced around then, seeing the thick crowd and grasped her hand tighter in his. â€œCome with me.â€
Without protest, he led her from the banquet into the balmy spring night. The wind tickled her face, lifting the strands of hair from her neck and dancing in the wind. He held on to her as though he would never let go as he led her from the hall.
â€œSir Drakeâ€¦?â€ she began.
â€œForgive me, my lady.â€ He paused, turning to her. Blue-white moonlight flooded his face, softening his features and endearing her to him even more. â€œThe seemed to be too many at banquet tonight and I feared I would have to share you with another.â€
â€œI confess, I did.â€ He granted her a small smile.
â€œWellâ€¦â€ she said slowly, glancing up at the full moon heavy in the night sky. â€œItâ€™s a fair night for walking.â€
He gripped her hand in his, and her heart did a funny thing in her chest. It throbbed madly and she caught the heady scent of him on the faint breeze. Something musky and masculine, reminding her of the dayâ€™s joust. She remembered then he had not worn a favor for any lady.
â€œYou didnâ€™t wear a token today,â€ she said, her voice timid.
â€œNo,â€ he agreed as he gazed down at her. â€œDoes that please you?â€
â€œShould it?â€ Her chin jutted out. â€œYou have made me no promises.â€
Drake suppressed a smile. â€œNo, I have not. Would you like me to?â€
Her pulse tripped. â€œIâ€™m sure there are others more worthy whom you wish to make your promises to. Not I.â€
â€œNo,â€ he said quickly. His large hand cupped her chin, tipping her head back. â€œMayhap I need to prove it to you.â€
Her skin tingled with his touch, alerting her senses. A slender eyebrow raised in question. â€œAnd how will do you that?â€
What was wrong with her? Was she challenging him to show her how to provide something of no consequence to her? Her mind found it difficult to believe he would have a remote interest in her. Yet here they stood bathed in blue-white light under the heavy full moon and she waited breathlessly for his next action.
His head dipped as her breath caught in her throat. His lips only brushed hers in a gentle kiss, but one that held so much emotion she nearly reeled. Her eyes closed, she felt his lips again, this time more than just a brush.
His mouth captured hers, his tongue dipping to catch just a taste of her. Could it be possible she tasted even sweeter than she looked? Could it be possible he never wanted another lady in his arms again?
His lips brushed her brow as her hands rested on his thick biceps. She had to hold on, for if she didnâ€™t she would surely faint.
â€œIs there any other proof you need from me, my lady?â€
He murmured the words against her forehead, his arms slipping around her and holding her against him. Her head tucked snugly under his chin and she could see his pulse in his throat beating quickly. One hand rested on his chest, feeling his warmth and the taut muscles beneath his tunic.
How would she answer? How could she answer? Her mind shouted to step away from him, but her heartâ€¦ oh, her heart wanted more. Demanded more. He had set her senses on fire with one little kiss, making her skin prickle with need and desire.
A raucous of boisterous men exploded into the night, interrupting their intimacy. Startled, she stepped back out of his grasp. He reluctantly let go. The men, no doubt several knights in the tourney, stumbled from the banquet hall in a drunk stupor, a giggling lady draped on each manâ€™s arm. They disappeared into the night, not even glancing their way.
Grace willed her heart to slow, but it wouldnâ€™t. Especially when Drake reached for her hand, lacing her fingers with his.
â€œI think itâ€™s time we leave this place. What say you?â€
The hair on the back of her neck stood at attention with his words. Her skin tingled from the top of her head, a heavy need settling deep in her womb. If she went with him, he would give her a taste of something she could never have again. How could she face her marriage to the vile earl when she knew what it was like to feel loved, cherished? The need to be with him warred inside her with the need to refuse him. She knew what she had to do.
Grace refused to show her emotions. Instead, she raised one thin eyebrow at him, reining in her feelings and suppressing the urge to throw herself into his arms. His powerful, safe and muscular arms. She couldnâ€™t allow him to see how much she wanted to be with him. Instead, she would build a wall around her locked heart, refusing to let him in.
â€œIâ€™m afraid I must bid you farewell, sir knight.â€ She graced him with a small smile. â€œUntil the morrow.â€
Disappointment flickered in his blue eyes before he controlled his expression. But she saw it and she felt it as well. To her dismay, he released her hand, his arm dropping to his side.
â€œWill you be in the gallery?â€ he asked.
â€œYes. Iâ€™ll see you in the lists.â€ She dipped a curtsy before taking several steps backward, putting distance between them. She hated the way he looked at her now, with an expression of regret, his lips in a thin line. Her heart squeezed, wishing things could be different, wishing she wasnâ€™t promised to a man who did not love her, who only wanted her as his prize. In a brazen impulsive move, she blew him a kiss. It would be the only token she could truly give him. She spun on the ball of her foot and headed into the darkness in a clipped gait.
â€œLady Grace,â€ he called.
Glancing over her shoulder, she saw he took a step toward her. Her heart stuttered in her chest as she paused, looking at him. He was a fine man, tall and broad and muscular with thick black hair she longed to run her fingers through. Gazing at her with piercing blue eyes, devastating her heart and making her wish for him to be hers and only hers. And she had turned him down. What the bloody hell was wrong with her?
Drake took four long strides and closed the gap between them, sending her stuttering heart into a flurry of beats in her chest. She watched him approach with his purposeful stride and when he was but a breath away, he swept her into his arms, crushing her against him.
His hungry mouth landed on hers before she realized what he intended to do. She could stop him no more than she could stop a runaway horse. He stole her breath, kissing her with fervor and desire and need. Kissing her as though she would be the last woman he would ever kiss in his lifetime. Despite her mind shouting protests, her arms slipped around his neck, one hand resting on the collar of his tunic.
His tongue found hers, though this time it was not the gentle playful dip as before. Her resolve melted as his mouth did dangerous things to hers. One hand swept through her hair she wore loose around her face, his fingers tangling in the long locks, the other hand pressed the small of her back into him, gently bending her back.
When she thought she could stand no more, he continued his kissing assault, moving from her lips to blister a path down her neck and up again, pausing to nip her earlobe. When he at last stopped his passionate onslaught, leaving her breathless, he gazed down at her with desire in his pale blue eyes. Her chest heaved against his, her hands planted firmly on his biceps, for if she didnâ€™t she would surely melt at his feet.
â€œGrant me your favor, my lady, and I will wear it for you on the morrow.â€ His whispered the words against her mouth, tempting her once more. â€œYours and no other.â€
She wanted to say yes. She wanted to give him more than just a favor.
â€œNo,â€ she replied, felt a swarm of disappointment and reluctance. â€œI cannot.â€
â€œJust a kerchief, thatâ€™s all. No one need know I have it, if thatâ€™s what you fear.â€
She gave him a gentle nudge, slipping out of his arms. â€œNo, I cannot,â€ Grace repeated.
Reluctantly, he released her as she stepped away. In the shadowy darkness, she could see the hard line of his jaw and hoped he wouldnâ€™t be too angry with her. How could she tell him she was promised to another? She didnâ€™t want to admit it even herself, much less to Sir Drake. For if she said the words aloud, it would then be more of a reality she was not yet ready to face.
â€œForgive me,â€ she whispered.
She turned on her heel and dashed away before he had a chance to capture her again.
Â© Michelle Miles 2005